The Lahore High Court has directed the Ministry of Religious Affairs the other day to accept this year Hajj applications from Shia women not accompanied by a mehram.
Justice Ayesha A Malik granted the interim relief to Shia women and the hearing was adjourned till October 14 as the counsel for the ministry needed time to disclose the name of the official who had decided to follow a 2013 decision by the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) prohibiting women pilgrims from performing Hajj without a mehram.
Justice Malik is hearing a petition challenging discriminatory treatment by the ministry with Shia citizens, particularly women.
At a previous hearing, the ministry had told the court that it had never sought advice in the matter from the CII. However, it said, a standing committee meeting had decided to follow the CII’s 2013 ruling in vetting applications for Hajj submitted by women. The ministry said the CII decision was not mentioned in the Hajj policy. The judge had then asked the ministry to disclose the name of the officials involved.
Petitioner’s counsel Barrister Maqsooma Zahra Bokhari had submitted that the CII was of an advisory body. Its recommendations could not be implemented unless they were enacted, she said. She also said that members representing Fiqh-i-Jafaria in the CII had recorded a note of dissent on the ruling.